“I define worship with Henry Nelson Wieman as the act of commitment through which we place ourselves in tune with the sources of creative good in the world.” – Rev. Dr. Virginia Knowles
“I was glad when they said, ‘Let us go into the House of worship…’. I have loved worship since I was a young child. I worship in UU settings and in interfaith settings. I worship in solitude and in large gatherings.” – Rev. Dr. Qiyamah A. Rahman
Unitarian Universalist (UU) worship is central to the covenantal community process that unites most UUs. It represents a designated time and place that we set aside each week to assemble, reflect and receive inspiration and renewal. It is a time for sharing wisdom and to evoke learnings from sacred texts and diverse inspirational sources that touch our hearts, minds, bodies and spirit. Sharing what is common between us in the human condition and creating the opportunity and space to listen for our unique truths is what UU worship is about.
UU worship is not the sole responsibility of the minister or even the worship associates. It is a collaborative process whereby those gathered and assigned to the task of worship, sensitively and intentionally orchestrate ritual, space, time and all the elements of good worship for the purpose of inviting community into a designated moment of time in their lives to call forth that of which they are in need. It can be magical. Or it can be boring and flat. It can resemble a performance. It may in fact require the coordination of many moving pieces. That does not take away from its sacredness unless the process by which it was produced, conceived, or birthed, lacked reverence.
UU worship usually features a one-hour themed time in community that includes a homily, related readings and hymns and music. It includes children and adults either during a “Story for All Ages” and/or an intergenerational service in which the children may remain in community. Most often they depart for spaces that are child-friendly and filled with opportunities for artistic expression that include crayons, paper, paints, and other accoutrements to engage busy and fidgety little hands and bodies. If there is a separate “Sunday School” the purpose of the curriculum is to expose the children to UU values reflected in our seven principles and purposes. Because of our theological diversity in many UU congregations, worship often and should reflect diverse theologies, ideologies and philosophies, drawing on diverse sacred texts and human experiences. Worship is a gift that clergy and laity create each week. But it does not end there. Those that come to worship, must come with open hearts and minds, ready to experience reverence and adoration for the sacred and divine in life. They must be willing to show up and risk vulnerability and to allow themselves to be moved, emotionally and perhaps physically, as they enter into the wonder and enchantment of worship. Worship at its best engages our curiosity, our compassion, intellect and emotions. It should move us and leave us renewed, even in times like these. And especially in times like these!
Come and let us worship in spirit and in truth!
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